When You Can't Innovate, You Litigate: Oracle Gleefully Takes Credit For Attacks On Section 230 And Google

from the shameful dept

A few weeks ago, Oracle announced that it was moving its headquarters out of Redwood Shores, in the middle of Silicon Valley, to Austin, Texas. The move is more symbolic than anything else. The company told employees they can continue working from wherever they want and founder Larry Ellison sent an email to all employees saying he'll be working from the island of Lanai, which he purchased a few years ago. But the symbolism of the move works in multiple ways. Despite being founded and headquartered in Silicon Valley for almost half a century, Oracle has long represented the anti-Silicon Valley approach to innovation.

Nearly a decade ago, cartoon artist Manu Cornet made this truly classic cartoon image of tech company org charts (which he thankfully put under a Creative Commons license):

I've heard people at all of those companies more or less confirm the accuracy of every one of those. The Oracle one is particularly on point:

For a while now, people in Silicon Valley have been well aware of Oracle's reputation as the anti-innovation behemoth, especially following its attack on APIs, interfaces, and how software is developed with the case against Google's reimplementation of the Java API. We're still waiting on how the Supreme Court rules on that one, to see whether or not Oracle has succeeded in undermining a key part of how software is developed -- including Oracle's own practices in reimplementing others' APIs.

Bloomberg now has a big report on how all of the recent antitrust cases against Google have Oracle's fingerprints all over them, and in the article, Oracle's top lobbyist gleefully takes credit for it.

What's less known is that Oracle Corp. spent years working behind the scenes to convince regulators and law enforcement agencies in Washington, more than 30 states, the European Union, Australia and at least three other countries to rein in Google's huge search-and-advertising business. Those efforts are paying off.

Officials in more than a dozen of the states that sued Google received what has been called Oracle’s “black box” presentation showing how Google tracks users’ personal information, said Ken Glueck, Oracle’s top Washington lobbyist and the architect of the company’s antitrust campaign against Google. Glueck outlined for Bloomberg the presentation, which often entails putting an Android phone inside a black briefcase to show how Google collects users’ location details — even when the phones aren’t in use — and confirmed the contours of the pressure campaign.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Glueck about the barrage of lawsuits. “As far as I can tell, there are more states suing Google than there are states.”

The thing is, Oracle more or less admits that it's doing this purely out of spite and the fact that it has failed to innovate and keep up with more nimble and innovative competitors. Oracle and Larry Ellison made some big bets early on that flopped. And rather than correct course and innovate, it has focused on what we've referred to as political entrepreneurship: lobbying and using the powers of government to shut down competitors, rather than innovate.

As many of us suspected, but is now confirmed by the article, Oracle is also a key player in trying to dismantle Section 230:

Oracle was one of the first companies to push Congress to adopt an anti-sex-trafficking measure in Congress, not because it was critical to its business but because Oracle knew it could hurt Google, according to a person familiar with the matter. The legislation weakened legal liability protections for tech companies such as Google from lawsuits over user-generated content in sex-trafficking cases.

Again, as many of us long knew, but didn't have public confirmation of, Oracle plays dirty in trying to smear anyone defending the open internet:

It’s also a master at stealth lobbying tactics, such as digging up dirt on competitors, disseminating opposition research and supporting dark-money groups that publicize negative findings about rivals.

In the article, it also points out that Oracle hired a firm to pay cleaning staff at a research group that wrote reports Oracle didn't like to rifle through the organization's trash to dig up dirt.

The article also confirms our earlier reporting about how Oracle execs sucking up to Trump, and Oracle's ability to label other companies' execs as saying anti-Trump stuff, was the key to it landing the TikTok deal:

Oracle won some battles after fostering ties to President Donald Trump. Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz and Glueck were part of Trump’s transition team. Catz advised the president on trade policy and serves on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Those ties may have proven fruitful when Microsoft was in pole position to acquire the U.S. operations of TikTok, the popular video app that Trump ordered its Chinese owner to sell. When TikTok picked Oracle as its preferred partner, after a phone call with Executive Chairman Larry Ellison, the president backed Oracle’s last-minute bid for a minority stake in the app as part of a deal that’s pending approvals.

As the article highlights, Oracle's revenue has continued to remain steady while all the tech companies it attacks politically have continued to thrive. And the reason for that is that those companies have built better products, while Oracle... hasn't. Instead, it's taken the tried and trued losers' approach. If you can't innovate, litigate. Or, in this case, rig the political system for favors. It's shameful.

Of course, what the Bloomberg report mostly leaves out is how much of this actually harms innovation and competition in the long run. We've already pointed out just how insanely short-sighted Oracle's API copyright case is. If you want to actually undermine Google's market share, making sure that others can reimplement its APIs is key. And while Oracle's cloud business is way behind leaders like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, one of these days, someone in Oracle's giant legal and lobbying team is going to wake up and remember that Section 230 protects its cloud business too.

But, of course, Oracle would rather set fire to the entire internet than realize it needs to innovate.

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Filed Under: antitrust, innovation, ken glueck, litigation, politics, section 230
Companies: google, oracle


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:08am

    You overlook CAUSE: "Google tracks users' personal information,

    to show how Google collects users' location details - even when the phones aren't in use

    GOOGLE is just one of the commercial fronts for the surveillance state. Universal spying by corporations is part of Masnick's corporatist agenda. That's why he's again defending the main SPY corp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:08am

    Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other people

    Nothing says that you know you can compete in a fair and open market like working overtime to sabotage your competitors via laws and smear campaigns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:08am

    GOOGLE is "innovative" mainly at SPYING ON THE PUBLIC.

    It has perhaps thousands of people watching and "analyzing" online activity and hundreds more trying to figure out and implement new ways of gathering and collating information on everyone -- all of which it supplies to gov't / law enforcement (not just US) for small fee. Snowden says GOOGLE gives NSA "direct access".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:09am

    Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's interest!

    Oracle more or less admits that it's doing this purely out of spite

    SO? It aligns with my and I believe The Public's interest to start putting some limits on "surveillance capitalism", and particularly GOOGLE.

    Masnick is attacking Oracle for being honest! Because honesty and limiting spying both enrage Masnick!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:15am

    Re: Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other people

    Nothing says that you know you can compete in a fair and open market like working overtime to sabotage your competitors via laws and smear campaigns.

    GOOGLE is proven to have done much -- with its hidden means, out of sight so unknown to the public -- to swing the election to Clinton and then Biden.

    GOOGLE is also big on surveilling persons to allow gov't to control them, and directly itself by using S230 to "moderate" according to internal corporate-made up rules, not common law, not open, not fair.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:20am

    Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's interest!

    Oracle is about as honest as you are, and that is honest about having a hate boner and nothing else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other people

    [Asserts facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's interest!

    Both Bobmail and Oracle are alike in supporting non-creators stealing money from creators and the censorship of the free speech of those he doesn't like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Lee Key-Fawcett, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:26am

    And GOOGLE deserves taken apart on ANTI-TRUST:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Lee Key-Fawcett, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other peop

    Toom1275 feebly denies reality with canned phrase that idiots parrot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Usayed Watt, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's intere

    Toom1275 Asserts facts not in evidence right after using that idiot phrase above.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Usayed Watt, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's intere

    Toom1275 Asserts facts not in evidence right after using that idiot phrase above.

    I can't PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced! YOU are incorrigible. Why should I bother to link? You won't even read it, let alone change position.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Usayed Watt, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's intere

    The censoring and blocking has set in on good ol' "free speech" Techdirt that's NOT open and fair, but a cheaty corporatist and globalist who advocates surveillance capitalism -- and enabled by statute, fully fascist.

    I'm just showing up for fun. Those who know reality stay away from Techdirt by the thousands, at least.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's in

    Your idea of fun is what most people call being an arsehole, but then you allow hatred to drive your life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:01am

    When you cease to innovate make donations to politicians to break the Internet. Reduce competition . Attack Google and other Companys who provide services that people want to use
    Oracle also uses api, s from other Companys
    No other company has gone to court seeking payment for using
    an api 1000s of company's use apis to make their software work on other platforms
    We have seen this pattern from old Companys that cannot innovate use the courts or politicians to attack other Companys
    Since oracle is not a media company they don't care about section 230

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Federico (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:26am

    Re: purely out of spite

    The thing is, Oracle more or less admits that it's doing this purely out of spite and the fact that it has failed to innovate and keep up with more nimble and innovative competitors.

    Yes, but also because they hope to take Google's place in dominating the AdTech business. That's all they've "invested" on in the last decade or so, with billions spent on acquisitions. Oracle's bet is probably that, if they conquer that shady market of data trading, they'll be less exposed to regulatory attacks and might enjoy a semi-monopoly for decades. How many people have heard or remember IAB? Yet everyone complains about Google Ads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:42am

    Oracle isn't buying TikTok

    https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/14/21436035/tiktok-oracle-deal-bytedance-president-trump-safety

    That having been said, Larry Ellison is a piece of ****. He doesn't pass my "Patio Test". In simple words, if he came down my driveway he'd be told to turn around and go away, and not allowed on the patio.

    There are lots of good people. Larry and Oracle are not.

    CDA Section 230, Google, Facebook, non-copyrightable-APIs/ABIs are all good things. Larry ****inc Ellison is not.

    Feel free to replace the asterisks with your epithet of choice. Mine rhymes with "duck".

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:57pm

    Plaintiff argues that usage of a canned phrase denies reality. But Plaintiff offers no facts in their Complaint to support this proposition. The Complaint is summarily dismissed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:04pm

    I can't PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced!

    You could help your credibility by citing sources with more credibility than even Breitbart. You could also help yourself by not insulting everyone right off the bat and assuming we’re not open to well-reasoned, well-sourced, and well-written dissent. (The comments on my two columns on this site should prove as much.) He who gets angry first loses — and you lose a hell of a lot around here without even trying.

    But I know you’ll only insult me in reply, as if that’s supposed to make me angry. All it really does, Brainy, is make me wonder how sad your meatspace life must be if your idea of “fun” is trolling the same tech blog for a decade because someone once insulted you so mildly that even Satan yawned at them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:05pm

    …are you fucking saying you can’t even fucking bring yourself to fucking use the word “suck”?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other people

    GOOGLE is proven to have done much -- with its hidden means, out of sight so unknown to the public -- to swing the election to Clinton

    How'd that work out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    OGquaker, 29 Dec 2020 @ 3:50pm

    on a separate track

    Larry Ellison offered to "donate" the technology to make a National Identification system & proposed a digitized ID card with embedded thumbprints and photographs for all of Americas citizens and legal residents.
    Newt Gingrich turned him down almost 20 years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can't PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced! YOU are incorrigible. Why should I bother to link? You won't even read it, let alone change position.

    There's a Devin Nunes memo thread that says otherwise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Boba Fat (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 5:14pm

    Larry Ellison

    Larry is only a few orange jumpsuits short of being a Bond villain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 5:37pm

    Re: on a separate track

    Of curse ABC.XYZ has a well-developed "digitized" system that can ID almost anyone, holding 10³ times as much goods on everyone except those already institutionalized. Jealousy will destroy you Larry!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    OGquaker, 29 Dec 2020 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Oracle isn't buying TikTok

    Gad, it must be great to have a driveway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's in

    I can't PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced!

    [Projects facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 8:18pm

    Bloomberg on Oracle v Google:
    The Google grudge began in 2010 when Google copied Oracle-owned Java programming code to develop the Android operating system.

    FFS @@

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 8:19pm

    Re:

    Bobmail feebly denies the reality that his uncivil, off-topic spam isn't worth more than my always-accurate canned response.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    PaulT (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's in

    "I can't PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced!"

    When have you ever provided a source that wasn't some right-ing blog spinning the facts for you, that's easily debunked by people with access to primary sources?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    OGquaker, 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:24pm

    James Gosling can't figure were to stand

    The SCOTUS "Java" copyright case seems to hinge on the 1878 Patent 207559, the QWERTY keyboard layout. Larry's argument of an endless copyright (not patent) on common functional devices is failing even with this new, Mo’ Betta™ "America Invents USPTO".

    May SUN rip.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2020 @ 1:04am

    Re:

    Google started android development while Java was still owned by Sun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    kallethen, 30 Dec 2020 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    Again, I mourn the death of Groklaw...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    PaulT (profile), 30 Dec 2020 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re:

    She did a lot of great work, but she deserves her rest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    Ed (profile), 30 Dec 2020 @ 7:29am

    A good read

    One of the most anticipated obituaries has to be Larry Ellison's. I know I'm looking forward to reading it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Rocky, 30 Dec 2020 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re:

    And happily cheered on by Sun....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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